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ECR Co-Chairman Fitto: “Respect as the hallmark of his political commitment”

Speech by ECR Co-Chairman Raffaele Fitto during the memorial ceremony for Parliament's President David Maria Sassoli:

“Dear Presidents, Officials, Colleagues, the Sassoli family,

The premature death of President Sassoli has left a void in each of us, but at the same time a memory that those who knew him will always remain with: that of a serious man, kind and respectful to his interlocutors regardless of their roles, their functions, and their ideas.

Over the years, President Sassoli performed his role with great self-sacrifice, seeking to bring this institution closer to the real needs of its citizens.

His institutional grace, his commitment to guaranteeing the work of the European Parliament even during the pandemic, his carrying out of his role with the same dedication as always, even during the months of his illness, which he lived through with great dignity until his last day, show very clearly that the character that President Sassoli exhibited is an example to us. But his main concern was to organise and make Parliament’s work functional.

All this is a sign of a politician of great depth and great respect for the institutions. It is no secret that President Sassoli had different views and positions to our group, starting with the EU reform process, which often led to “lively” exchanges of opinion. However, this has not prevented him from holding constructive and respectful discussions with all the political groups in recent years, both in this Chamber and in the Conference of Presidents, demonstrating his intelligence, farsightedness and political sensitivity.

But David was not only the President of Parliament. Over time he had also and above all become a friend. The difference of our positions was never a limit to the strengthening and growth of our friendship, that grew and strengthened over time.

And even in this last period, when we saw each other, when we spoke to each other, we had the opportunity to reaffirm these feelings, this respect, this friendship.

There are so many episodes that I could personally mention and that I will keep in my mind, but above all it is in my heart to remember a great friend. I like to remember him as a man of great passion, great irony, and with a brilliant smile – which many of you have also made reference to – always ready to listen and give advice.

I believe that it’s important today, on behalf of the ECR Group, to offer sincere and true, heartfelt, and not formal, condolences, first of all to his family, his wife, Alessandra, and his children, Giulio and Livia, and to the political community of the Democratic Party and the Group of Socialists and Democrats. Also to his staff, whom I have had the opportunity to know and appreciate. They too have been deeply affected by this affair.

I am sure, and I say this as a political adversary, that even if he had finished his role as President, in the coming months and years his contribution to a Europe capable of facing present and future challenges would not have been lacking, and would have represented a very useful and fundamental asset: the diversity of opinion as a real enrichment, and respect as the hallmark of his political commitment. These are the main lessons that European and Italian politics should learn and carry forward for the coming years.

The European institutions will miss him, all politics will miss him, we will all miss a capable, serious, credible and respectful interlocutor.”

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